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The model for the systematic design of instruction was developed and published by Walter Dick, Lou Carey, and James Carey in 1978 (Dick et al., 2013). Also known as the Systems Approach Model, the Dick and Carey model evolved from Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction (Dick et al., 2013) and the linear sequence of its ten steps reflects the ADDIE process (Heaster-Ekholm, 2020): 1) identify an instructional goal, 2) conduct instructional analysis, 3) analyze learners and context, 4) write performance objectives, 5) develop assessment tools, 6) develop instructional strategy to achieve the goals, 7) develop and select instructional materials, 8) design and conduct formative evaluation, and 9) revise instruction (Dick et al., 2013).

Since each step in the model builds upon the previous step, the model prioritizes the learning content and objectives first, then the learners and context subsequently. Although the design of the course is largely driven by the decisions of the instructional designer rather than the learner (Heaster-Ekholm, 2020) the advantage of have the learner analysis as the third step in the model is that it precedes the development and selection of tools, instructional strategies, and learning resources. This way, the instructional designer can account for the learners’ goals and context in the process of determining the tools and strategies that would best fit the learner population.

Initially a behaviorist model of instructional design, the Dick and Carey model is now in its eighth edition (Heaster-Ekholm, 2020) and has evolved to incorporate a wider range of learning theories and strategies including constructivism, cognitivism, distance learning, and delivery over varying media (Defelice & Sittler, 2010). Additionally, the progressive nature of the model addresses criticisms of its linear and systematic nature. Defelice and Sittler (2010) explained that the Dick and Carey model is not lockstep and the starting point and steps can be adapted to fit the instructional challenge. For example, if the primary focus needs to be learner analysis, the instructional designer may choose to start their process at the learner analysis step, or combine their instructional and learning analysis steps into one phase. In terms of the systematic nature of the model, Defelice and Sittler (2010) clarified that the model is intended to provide the instructional designer with a guided approach to course design, but ultimately leaves the decision-making up to the designer. Based on this, the model serves as a practical framework for novice designers to follow and ensure that they are incorporating factors of their learner analysis in their decisions, but is also flexible and open so experienced designers can decide which aspects of the model are most important to their task and develop creative solutions to engage learners effectively.

Since learning goals, content, and tools are prioritized in the Dick and Carey model (Heaster-Ekholm, 2020), this model would be most effective in a learning context where the designer is tasked with building a brand-new course. By following each step of the model, the designer will be guided through an effective design process that incorporates both the instructional goals and learner context. With each revision of the course, the designer is able to modify the process to place more or less focus on each step in the model to incorporate the feedback received from the formal evaluation.

On the other hand, the Morrison, Ross and Kemp Model provides a learner-centered approach by maximizing the focus on performance improvement and learner characteristics, and minimizing the time spent on content by starting with predetermined learning objectives (Heaster-Ekholm, 2020). Rather than a linear process, the Kemp model represents cyclical process where the design can be initiated from any of the nine interrelated steps: 1) identify the root instructional problem, 2) analyze learner characteristics and environment, 3) conduct a task or content analysis, 4) specify instructional objectives, 5) organize content sequencing, 6) create an instructional strategy, 7) design the message, 8) develop instruction, and 9) select evaluation tools (Morrison et al., 2019).

Originally designed by Jerrold Kemp in 1971, the Kemp model is also in its eighth edition and offers an objectivist implementation of the ADDIE process (Heaster-Ekholm, 2020). Through its evolution, Morrison et al. (2019) advocated that the model is flexible and adaptable, and incorporates behavioral and cognitive approaches. Compared to the linearity of the Dick and Carey model where each step must be completed sequentially, the Kemp model allows designers to choose any combination of the nine steps in the cycle that effectively resolves the instructional challenge (Morrison et al., 2019). Since the nine steps are interrelated but not interdependent, designers can choose to omit a step or place greater focus on one over another to adapt to their context effectively.

This flexibility in the process works well with the nine steps which focus on the learners’ needs, skills, context, and goals. Since the Kemp model applies well to courses with predetermined content goals (Heaster-Ekholm, 2020), designers are able to focus on accommodating for learner context and diversity. Depending on the instructional challenge, the designer can start with developing instruction and content sequencing then factor in the learners’ gaps in knowledge or skill. Reversely, the learners’ characteristics can be analyzed first, then a message designed to effectively engage these learners. In particular, the Kemp model provides further insight in the learner analysis step on designs for teaching a diverse learner population such as accommodating for skills, abilities, readiness, and culture (Morrison et al., 2019).

However, this same advantage of flexibility is also a main criticism of the Kemp model (Akbulut, 2007). Too much flexibility causes the design process to be slow for novice designers. Compared to following a linear process where every step is required, the designers need to have the appropriate experience to efficiently determine which steps to focus on or exclude. Morrison et al. (2019) claimed that the model remains a systematic process for course development – simply focusing more on individual learner improvements rather than aiming for passive learning and recall. They advocated that the adaptive ability of the model facilitates dynamic interactions between the instructor, designer, and learner resulting in engaging learning experiences.

Despite the constructivist tone of the design process, the Kemp model is still fundamentally objectivist and works well in a context where the curriculum has been predetermined. With the content goals already identified, the designer focuses on bridging the gap between the learners’ current and desired knowledge and skills. Additionally, since the steps in the model do not need to be completed sequentially, the Kemp model would be effective in a multidisciplinary design team where the course design can be developed from multiple steps simultaneously and coordinated into the finished product.



Akbulut, Y. (2007). Implications of Two Well-Known Models For Instructional Designers In Distance Education: Dick-Carey Versus Morrison-Ross-Kemp. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 8(2), 62-68.

Defelice, R. A., and Sittler, R. L. (2010). A Brief History of the Dick and Carey Model. The Free Library. brief history of the Dick and Carey Model.-a0247224122

Dick, W., Carey, L., & Carey, J. O. (2013). A model for the systematic design of instruction. Instructional Design: International Perspectives: Theory, Research, and Models1, 361-370.

Heaster-Ekholm, K. L. (2020). Popular Instructional Design Models: Their Theoretical Roots and Cultural Considerations. International Journal of Education and Development Using Information and Communication Technology, 16(3), 50–65.

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. J., Morrison, J. R., & Kalman, H. K. (2019). Designing effective instruction. John Wiley & Sons.